Orangutan conservation at Sepilok, Borneo

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2016: 7 Nov
2017: 2 Jan, 6 Mar, 1 May, 3 Jul, 4 Sep, 6 Nov
2018: 1 Jan

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Orangutan conservation at Sepilok, Borneo


Orang-Utans (in Malay "man of the forest") are protected under the Fauna Conservation Ordinance which, among other things, prohibits hunting, trading or keeping them as pets.

The Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre is situated on the east coast of Sabah, 23 km from Sandakan. A twenty-minute drive from Sandakan brings you to Kabili-Sepilok Forest, an enormous area of virgin rainforest. The Wildlife Reserve contains the Orang-Utan rehabilitation centre.

Sepilok centre was established in 1964 to return orphaned apes back to the wild. The objectives of the project have expanded in recent years and, while Orang-Utan rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, present aims include public education on conservation and research with other endangered species. The centre now has more than 37 staff looking after the welfare of the Orang-Utans.

When the rescued Orang-Utans first arrive at the centre, they are often in a sorry state and riddled with diseases. They are put into cages while they're treated for their ailments and nursed back to health. The wardens then teach them how to forage for fruit, climb trees and generally fend for themselves. When they are mid-way through the rehabilitation process they are released into the surrounding forest reserve. The animals then spend most of their time in the forest but often return to one of the centre's five feeding platforms for a “free” meal. When the wardens feel that that an Orang-Utan is fully rehabilitated, it is caught and returned to the wild - usually deep in the forest or to one of the National Parks or Wildlife Sanctuaries.


We have worked closely with the Sabah Wildlife Department for many, many years. In the past, several volunteers from our Orang-Utan project have been invited by the Sabah Wildlife Department to help with various projects to set up the Wildlife Park. One assisted in the design of the sun bear enclosure and another designed and produced the Wildlife Parks information pamphlet.

We have also donated £5,140.00 to sponsor the Children’s Zoo. The Children’s Zoo is first and foremost an educational facility with an information centre currently under construction that will boast live exhibits. Brightly painted murals engage attention and the petting zoo allows children to have hands on contact with domestic animals and wildlife to encourage learning about conservation. In the petting area there are Rabbits, Tortoise, Miniature Ponies and Goats. Travellers' donation reflects their commitment in education and raising awareness about conservation.

2010 saw the start of a Conservation Awareness Programme at Lok Kawi, funded by Travellers and involving over 1000 local school children in its' first year. The purpose of the awareness programme is to teach the importance of nature and wildlife conservation to younger generations through exposure to Borneo's native wildlife. This and many other initiatives have been very successful.

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